This Harley Quinn review contains spoilers.
Harley Quinn Episode 12
The penultimate episode of Harley Quinn has arrived and it begins by offering up some seriously strange conflicts for the crew. This week Harley and her gang have to face down a group of mutant and maniacal trees whilst the Scarecrow uses his Poison Ivy pheromone fear serum to drive the citizens of Gotham towards the monstrous plantlife. In case that wasn’t hint enough, this is a Poison Ivy episode, and even better than that we get the return of Christopher Meloni’s crazed Jim Gordon. But the real star here is the Justice League who make their debut here and quickly banish our beloved baddies to… The Phantom Zone!!
As much fun as that setup would have been, all of this happens literally in the first two minutes of the episode. That’s because the Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes) has come back to get her revenge on Harley (Kaley Cuoco), Ivy (Lake Bell), Clayface (Alan Tudyk), King Shark (Ron Funches), and Dr. Psycho (Tony Hale). Looks like she’s pretty good at the vengeance business too as Fables manages to turn Gotham into a fairytale hellhole complete with giants, beanstalks, and the aforementioned killer trees. It’s another excellent showcase for the awesome animators behind Harley Quinn, but the story gets a little bogged down in the romantic relationship no one asked for: Poison Ivy and Kite Man.
What drove the writers to add this storyline is beyond me. If it’s meant to be a slowburn joke about how even the most incredible, beautiful, and powerful women end up with annoying and mediocre men, then I suppose it’s depressingly apt. But this episode seems to want us to think that Kite Man is a hero, which is just… boring. I’ve already written extensively about how the series should have committed to Harley and Ivy at least trying to be together, but alas instead we have… this. And, yes, Kite Man still sucks and that is seemingly the point. Don’t worry, though, because just as things seem like they’re losing their way we get a truly ridiculous twist that feels like it would have fit better in the wild world of Batman ’66. And that is no bad thing at all.
Setting up the key conflict for the series’ finale, the Joker (Tudyk) has apparently killed off the Legion of Doom and is beginning a war in the city of Gotham. It’s the bonkers lift that “Devil’s Snare” needs as the Clown Prince of Crime reveals his ultimate plan which is apparently to… team up with the Queen of Fables so that he can use his giant and very phallic purple tower to take over Gotham and finally end his feud with his not-so-evil ex. Things are looking dire for the crew until Ivy drinks some mysterious goop that has been turning the trees evil and becomes… a GIANT WOMAN!!
Harley Quinn is at its best when it wears its passions on its sleeves, whether it’s the team’s love for the source material and the characters or the love they have for pop culture. Getting to see Poison Ivy go full Attack of the 50 ft Woman feels like exactly the kind of bit that Harley Quinn and co. should be engaging in more. One of the other strengths of the strange and surreal animated adventure occurs whenever it dips into the emotional exploration of the women at its core. We get a little bit of that this episode as Harley and Ivy declare their (platonic) love for each other and admit just how important their relationship really is. But just as the pair truly reunite, the Joker deals what could be a deadly blow to Harley’s best friend.
I’m not a fan of the “kill your gays” trope and despite the fact that they tried to focus on Ivy’s feelings for men this season I’m really hoping that the show didn’t just kill off Poison Ivy. If the team is smart this cliffhanger will be dealt with in a way similar to Alan Moore’s iconic resurrection of Swamp Thing… he’s a plant, he doesn’t have a brain, so shooting him in the head does tantamount to nothing to harm him. Ivy is similarly made of plants so hopefully we’ll get a good dismissive joke that references one of the best DC issues of all time and all will be forgotten. If not, then the final episode of Harley Quinn will be a massive let down, especially as Bell’s Ivy has consistently been one of the best parts of the series since the very first episode.
One thing is for sure, though: whether or not Ivy survives, Harley will be out for revenge. After all, no one touches her best friend–especially not her sh**ty ex!–and that’s one showdown that we cannot wait to see.
You can watch Harley Quinn on DC Universe.